I was at Shelburne Bay late this afternoon and eventually confirmed a Stilt
Sandpiper- long story. . On Wednesday evening I was there and birding with
Scott Sainsbury & Alison Wagner. Scott was about to leave when I announced
that I might have a "good candidate" for Stilt Sandpiper. Alison then got onto
it with her scope and we tried & tried to ID it but it was simply too far out
toward the east to get what I consider to be a positive ID, so we had to let it
go. Tonight I saw what could possibly be the same bird and it was again too
far out to positively ID it, so I had to let this one go. A little while after that
while birding with Paul Wieczoreck, Tyler Pockette arrived and began showing
us pictures of some shorebirds that he had taken while standing on/near Bay
Rd. He asked me to look at one in particular because he wondered what it
was. I took one look and immediately recognized as a Stilt Sandpiper. I then
relocated that bird with my scope and finally confirmed it. Thank you Tyler for
showing up when you did and providing a great picture to positively ID this
bird. It was a "life bird" for both Tyler & Paul!!!
The Willet was also still there (and an additional life bird for Tyler).
Congrats to both of them.
Earlier- Paul saw a duck flying by us and heading west. While in the air I
noticed that it showed a white speculum. That ruled out Mallard because it
has a blue speculum with a white bar along the leading and trailing edges. It
splashed down and I got it in my scope. This duck had a nice triangular white
patch near the rear (secondary feathers). It also had a slight bill which dark
on the top and orange edges. A Mallard swam behing it and was larger than
this duck. These 3 field observations made it look good for Gadwall. However,
the head shape was more similar to a Mallard's. It had a dark eye line, dark
central (kind of stripe) that started at the cap and followed along the hind
neck. It did not show a steep forehead. the head was actually quite rounded
and sloped in the front. I did find out (with a little research) that Gadwall and
Mallard are not an uncommon hybrid. Apparently at one time it was thought to
be a distinct species- Brewer's Duck. Anyway, even though it is difficult to ID
hybrids in the field, I "suspect" that this duck is one. It looked like a Gadwall
with a Mallard's head placed on it and a Gadwall's bill attached to the head.
Perhaps others will see this duck and possibly add their own comments. . .